The best thing about Marco Barnabò is that he can see the future. Not like witchcraft or something magical, but like a big puzzle to be put together one piece at a time. “I try to get by with the financial possibilities I have,” he says. Then he smiles, thinks about it: “It's not entirely true, if I had had to think that I had the whole budget I might never have started. In October I said I would no longer be in Superbike. But I didn't have time to finish the season and we're back here again. It’s the desire, the passion. To move forward, it takes a bit of everything: programming, luck, money. But mainly it takes commitment and continuity. Nobody gives you anything, it is you who continues to work and try to improve".
It wasn’t an easy season for the Barni Racing Team: Camier’s injury, Melandri’s flop, crashes, costs. And last but not least Covid. A team principal like Barnabò always has to do the accounts, otherwise he never puts the pieces of the puzzle together. “A lot of Italian sponsors have stopped. They are people who have always helped us. We are sad about this. Many others will not be able to renew next year. We have lost a turnover of 30 percent ".
"A lot of sponsors have stopped because of Covid, to continue I had to make choices"
And how do you manage to go on?
“The Barni team and workshop compensate for each other, we had to sell some material, make some choices: you sell the bike you wanted to keep, and you sell the engine, you sell things that would have been nice to keep. And as a result you pay people, the suppliers. We have a dozen people doing this job. We tried to lose out as little as possible, but to hang in there".
What does this mean for a Superbike team like yours?
"In addition to working badly, we had to work a lot more to look for partners abroad. There are countries that have felt the economic crisis a little less, and therefore the only thing is to move and look around, in other areas ".
"Rabat asked me only for one thing: to be able to fight it out on equal terms with the other Ducati riders"
On a sporting level, you looked around and chose Rabat. What’s he like?
"I met him a while ago, a nice guy. But now I got to know him better. He is polite, you can immediately see that he is a good person. I see myself in him. He is someone with an incredible passion, and he really wants to work. It is a bit like my ideal of life. I don't think of myself as one of the best, but I always think I put my best into it. That's how Rabat is, we have the same mentality ”.
And what does this mean in practice?
“I tell you this. We made an agreement via video call, all OK, all done. But I wanted him to come here, I wanted to show him the bike and have him sign the contract in person. He had gone to do motocross, he loaded the bike into the van, he came here a day earlier. He has in mind to ride the bike, he is convinced he can do well, and be fast with the right support ”.
And you have given it to him?
“What you get you will see at the end of the season. I have no expectations, last season taught me that. As for Rabat he only asked us for one thing ”.
What was that?
“That the bike is as competitive as the other Ducati bikes. Period. He wanted to know if he could fight it out on equal terms. When he was here I sat him on the bike. I had everything prepared, two seats, a lot of things… He said to me: “Don't touch anything, that's okay. I adapt to the bike”. This speaks volumes. I was expecting maybe a bit of a show-off. But he wasn’t".
Ciabatti was also there at the signing of Rabat’s contract, what relationship do you have with him?
"Of friendship. In ‘95 he was in Ducati, then he left and when he came back I was still there. Out of all the other teams that had started none were left. He always says things the way they are, as far as he can. And therefore with Ducati a relationship of collaboration, of continuity, I think also of credibility was created ”.
"In 2020 I could have avoided racing, but I did it because I’m professional"
No expectations for 2021. Are you telling the truth?
"The goal is basically to start with a work program and complete it. In practice: doing what we have not done this year. In SBK it's not like you take the rider and win the race. No, electronics have evolved here too, the level is high. If you don't plan, you can't make goals. So you have to get yourself a concrete basis ”.
Which was missing in 2020…
“I could have avoided going to the track, but it seemed fairer and more professional for me to participate even with different riders. To make everyone work, keep the team standing, and also to give a sign of professionalism that the team always turned up at the track. Regardless of the results ".
What didn’t work?
"Different things. Everything revolved around Camier, he crashed, he got hurt, he didn't race in Australia, and then Covid arrived. When we resumed we turned up with Melandri. The continual changes didn’t help us. With Camier we had a bike as long as a train, with Marco almost a mini bike… ”.
"Melandri was expecting a different bike from the one he found"
Why didn't Melandri do well?
“I can only speak well of Marco. And he was a great professional. But he expected a different bike than the one he found, with different characteristics, they went the opposite way to his riding style. We tried everything, but he was unable to resolve that situation. And he decided to stop. Melandri expected to be in the top five, six. Not in the top ten ".
Disappointed or angry?
“No, angry no. I know I worked hard, but it was certainly one of the worst seasons. When you work and get no results, there are economic problems, you crash and you have damage, there is no more morale in the team, it becomes a problem. It was difficult for everyone. My only hope for this year is to have a season without these problems ".
What was the hardest moment of the season?
“Talking to Camier - that was really a huge disappointment - and telling him: 'You have to stay at home'. It was also very bad when it ended with Melandri. I thought: fuck, another misfortune. I didn’t sleep for a few nights. It's passion that makes me think about the bike even at night ".
"In the National Trophy to develop the Ducati Panigale V2: in 2022 we will also do the Supersport World Championship"
And then there is the National Trophy project…
"I want to participate with a rider in the National Trophy to start development of the Ducati Panigale V2 995. Do it in view of the new Supersport regulations and in 2022 participate in the world championship with the twin. We won’t be racing in the National to win the title”.
"No, there is an identikit, we have some ideas, we are working on it. We have had a lot to do with the Superbike team, and these days it's not always easy ”.
Do you think Superbike will be affected by Covid?
“In my opinion no, I hope people are confident and positive. As after a war, I hope that from the middle of the year forward things will start up again. And from there also our world can start again. I hope so".
Are you a positive person?
"Usually no. But in this situation, yes, perhaps because I see no other way out. I cannot think of standing still, or that the movement stands still for years. So I have to say that in some way everything that is the economy will restart ”.
You are close to Bergamo, you felt the first wave a lot…
"It was very serious. I was never at home one day, I used to come to the workshop alone, but it was incredible. The phone didn't ring, nobody came. It was very difficult. It was a relief when we started seeing a chink. I have friends who caught the virus, but I have no perception of someone who got sick and then died. I was afraid for the family, for my children Davide and Cristina ”.